Crowded by Mass Ave, Chatham Arch exploring permit parking

Parking shortages plaguing the Chatham Arch neighborhood adjacent to bustling Massachusetts Avenue are getting so severe that residents are considering whether to require permits to park on their streets.

A committee formed last year is kicking around ideas they hope will alleviate the growing number of outsiders parking in the neighborhood, drawn by the proliferation of retail and restaurant destinations and an influx of apartments.

Longtime neighborhood resident Sally Spiers, president of the Chatham Arch Neighborhood Association, called for the committee’s formation. For 25 years, she has resided on the stretch of Park Avenue between Massachusetts and East St. Clair Street and has seen the shortage grow increasingly worse.

Daytime parking is getting as bad as the evening, Spiers said, as Mass Ave store employees and construction workers building the projects vie for available spaces.

“It used to be that I only had a problem on [Phoenix] theater nights,” she said, “and then it was all day, every day.”

Phoenix leaders announced earlier this month that the theater would leave its longtime home in the old St. Stephen’s Missionary Baptist Church at 749 N. Park Ave., largely due to the space crunch.

Bryan Fonseca, the theater’s producing director, told IBJ that parking in the neighborhood has become a “nightmare” and is causing attendance to decline. The Phoenix has purchased property on North Illinois Street and eventually intends to move there.

Any permit-parking system pursued by Chatham Arch residents would need approval from the City-County Council. Downtown neighborhoods that already require permit parking include Lockerbie Square and Ransom Place.

Requiring a permit to park in Chatham Arch is just one option the committee is exploring, Spiers said. Another might entail some sort of service to shuttle visitors to Mass Ave from designated parking areas.

Those options might not be necessary, however, if a large parking garage is built, presumably as part of a large-scale development that might be constructed on the site of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant on the northeast end of the avenue.

“The last real big hope is that we’ve got the Coke plant,” said City-County Councilor Zach Adamson, who represents the area.

Indianapolis Public Schools owns the 11-acre site at Massachusetts and College avenues that houses its bus-maintenance facility. IPS is consolidating those operations at another location and is seeking proposals to develop the site.

Adamson blamed the parking dilemma on apartment developers who construct projects with hundreds of units but significantly fewer parking spaces.

“Most of these developments have mixed-use components,” he said. "They’re a good thing, but they don’t account for the additional influx of people.”

Several apartment developments have taken shape in the area in recent years, with others ready to leap from the drawing board. For example, Milhaus Development LLC built the apartment complex Circa just south of where Massachusetts intersects with College and St. Clair and is constructing a smaller, 42-unit apartment project to the north of Circa.

On a much larger scale, Developers J.C. Hart Co. Inc., Strongbox Commercial and architect Schmidt and Associates are planning to build the $50 million, 236-unit Montage on Mass at the avenue's intersection with New Jersey Street, on the current site of a downtown fire station and credit union.


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